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Paneer

Paneer () is a fresh cheese common in South Asia, especially in Indian, Pakistani, Afghan, Nepali, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi cuisines. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids. Its crumbly and moist form is called chhena in eastern India and in Bangladesh.

Etymology and history

The word paneer is of Persian origin. The Turkish word peynir, the Persian word panir, the Azerbaijani word panir, and the Armenian word panir (պանիր), all derived from paneer, refer to any type of cheese. The origin of paneer itself is debated. Vedic Indian, Afghan- Iranian and Portuguese- Bengali origins have been proposed for paneer. Vedic literature refers to a substance that is interpreted by some authors, such as Sanjeev Kapoor, as a form of paneer. According to Arthur Berriedale Keith, a kind of cheese is "perhaps referred to" in Rigveda 6.48.18. However, Otto Schrader believes that the Rigveda only mentions "a skin of sour milk, not cheese in the proper sense". K. T. Achaya mentions that acidulation of milk was a taboo in the ancient Indo-Aryan culture, pointing out that the legends about Krishna make several references to milk, butter, ghee and yogurt, but do not mention sour milk cheese. Based on texts such as Charaka Samhita, BN Mathur wrote that the earliest evidence of a heat-acid coagulated milk product in India can be traced to 75-300 CE, in the Kushan- Satavahana era. Sunil Kumar et al. interpret this product as the present-day paneer. According to them, paneer is indigenous to north-western part of South Asia, and was introduced in India by Afghan and Iranian travelers. D.R. Ghodekar of India's National Dairy Research Institute also believed that paneer was introduced into India by Afghan and Iranian invaders. According to writers such as K.T. Achaya, Andrea S. Wiley and Pat Chapman, the Portuguese introduced the technique of "breaking" milk with acid to Bengal in the 17th century. Thus, Indian acid-set cheeses such as paneer and chhena were first prepared in Bengal, under Portuguese influence.

Preparation

Paneer is prepared by adding food acid, such as lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or yogurt,Adiraja Dasa. The Hare Krishna book of Vegetarian Cooking. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1989, to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in muslin or cheesecloth and the excess water is pressed out. The resulting paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2–3 hours to improve its texture and appearance. From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use and regional tradition. In most Nepalese cuisines, the curds are wrapped in cloth, placed under a heavy weight such as a stone slab for two to three hours, and then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes) results in a softer, fluffier cheese. In Bengali and other east Indian cuisines, the curds are beaten or kneaded by hand into a dough-like consistency, resulting in chhena (also known as sana or chhana). In these regions, chhena is distinguished from paneer (called ponir), a salty semi-hard cheese with a sharper flavor and high salt content. Hard ponir is typically eaten in slices at teatime with biscuits or various types of bread, or deep-fried in a light batter. In the area surrounding the Gujarati city of Surat, Surti Paneer is made by draining the curds and ripening them in whey for 12 to 36 hours.

Use in dishes

, a vegetarian dish from India]] or palak paneer, a spinach-based curry dish]] Paneer is the most common type of cheese used in traditional Indian and Pakistani cuisines. The use of paneer is more common in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is sometimes wrapped in dough and deep-fried or served with either spinach ( palak paneer) or peas ( mattar paneer). The well-known rasgulla features plain chhana beaten by hand and shaped into balls which are boiled in syrup. The sana / chhana / chhena used in such cases is manufactured by a slightly different procedure from paneer; it is drained but not pressed, so that some moisture is retained, which makes for a soft, malleable consistency. It may, however, be pressed slightly into small cubes and curried to form a dalna in Maithili, Oriya and Bengali cuisines.

Paneer dishes

Some paneer recipes include:

Fast food

.]] Most international fast food restaurants in India offer paneer-based food. McDonald's India serves the McSpicy Paneer and Paneer Wrap.http://www.mcdonaldsindia.com/pdf/McSpicy-press-release-final.pdf In the United Kingdom, Subway has started serving a saag paneer patty. The Tamatanga urban Indian cuisine restaurant also serves a paneer wrap. Taco Bell India serves a paneer and potato burrito. Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Papa John's have pizzas with paneer toppings.

Similar cheeses

Anari, a fresh mild whey cheese produced in Cyprus, is very similar in taste and texture to fresh Indian paneer. Circassian cheese is produced using a similar method and is close in consistency to paneer, but is usually salted. Farmer cheese, dry curd cottage cheese, and firm versions of quark are similar except that they are made from cultured milk and may be salted. Although many Indians translate "paneer" into the English "cottage cheese", they are distinct dishes. Cottage cheese, for example, is made using Rennet, the stomach acid of ruminants. This is one large difference between the two. Cottage cheese is also different in its taste; the North American dish is sour and tougher in texture than paneer. Queso blanco or queso fresco are often recommended as substitutes in the Americas as they are more commercially available in many American markets. Both are generally salted, unlike paneer.

References

"green air" © 2007 - Ingo Malchow, Webdesign Neustrelitz
This article based upon the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paneer, the free encyclopaedia Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Further informations available on the list of authors and history: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Paneer&action=history
presented by: Ingo Malchow, Mirower Bogen 22, 17235 Neustrelitz, Germany